Great Basin Trail: Guide Part 4
GBT Map Set and Track:
I have a Great Basin Trail map set and GPX track available for aspiring hikers. These are available under certain stipulations. I have created an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to address questions and for potential obtainment of the GBT map set and track. I am open to freely sharing the resource but I will only acknowledge the requests based on my intimate knowledge of the aspiring hiker or after a set of interview questions. The set I have potentially available is a third draft/edition, which will be updated by myself, or from feedback and information from other hikers as the time comes. When the updates occur I will resend the updated draft to the folks that have already had the previous map set drafts.
The 'track' is not a track. I am steering away from a tracked red line. Instead the 'track' is plotted waypoints from the field that will assist in navigation. These plotted waypoints act as checkpoints. This encourages the hiker to be engaged mentally and be present in the moment. Since the GBT is a suggestion of exploration through the landscape of the Great Basin and Nevada, I want the wapointed track to only bolster one's creativity of travel through that landscape. I do not want one to pigeon-hole there footpath by a solid GPS track where one has their head in their phone. The idea behind the GBT is to choose your own adventure, to stir up a sense of freedom in creating a route. I want you to to be engage in your own creation out there only letting my GBT waypoints to keep you in the framework.
Larry-Boy, route creator of the Deseret Hiking Route, a rugged 1,000 mile journey and trek through Utah and portions of Idaho, has some poignant words in regards to route-sharing and 'guthooking' a trail. I believe along the same lines as him in regards to actually making a GPS red-line track. So, rather than mince words and regurgitate what he is saying, here is an excerpt:
'Share Information Responsibly:
Over the years, we've all observed trails that were formerly 'out there' become a bit more domesticated. The CDT has been blazed in its entirely (allegedly!). The Hayduke Trail now has a smartphone app and is attempted by dozens of hikers each season. Off-trail travel in the Wind River Range has been commoditized. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, of course, and to some extent, fighting this trend is akin to tilting at windmills. But I'd like the DHR to be different - to give each hiker the sense that they are pioneering something new, be they the 2nd hiker or the 202nd hiker on the route.
The quickest way to kill this sense of pioneering, in my opinion, is to publish a GPS track. Following the little red line doesn't encourage engagement with the terrain, exploration, or problem-solving. Of course, nothing says you have to use a GPS track or smartphone app of it's available, but the mere existence of such a resource makes attempting the trail without it seem a bit contrived - an artificial challenge.
So, for the sake of the hiker who seeks an uncontrived navigational challenge and to keep the route from being Guthooked to death, I'm going to blatantly ignore HYOH and ask as a condition of using these maps, that you not record or distribute a GPS track.'
The Great Basin Trail is for the hiker, whether long distance or section or day hiker, who wants to explore the Great Basin region. I have put together a themed route solely contained within Nevada that I believe hits some of the highlights of this often overlooked region. Because of the remoteness, general nature of the rugged terrain, and navigational and logistical challenges, I will have some general interview questions to discuss skill level and experience, realistic goals and expectations, safety precautions and measures. Reason being is I do not want anyone to get in over their head who do not quite understand the endeavor they are undertaking. I understand this trail is not for everyone, especially inexperienced hikers. I understand as well that that phrase, 'inexperienced hikers,' is relative and/or subjective to any person or hiker. But since I have developed and hiked this route I understand the rigors and skill set needed to hike this route.
In time, I truly hope to have at least 1 hiker to thru hike the GBT. I really believe in this route in its scenic value, wilderness experience, the provided growth of skill set challenges, the small towns and people of the Great Basin, and in the design of the route. The GBT has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had in all the years of long distance hiking and besides the characteristics listed in the previous sentence I found the GBT to be incredibly fun. If enough steam is gathered up in the amount of GBT hikers and inquiries I will have a Databook developed. Furthermore, if interest continues to persist, I may end up charging a fee for the complete resource set, considering all the time and energy I have put forth.
The Great Basin Trail resources are designed to be utilized in a triple-navigation method, which means to navigate the GBT I highly recommend combining the GBT paper Map Set (priority), with the GAIA GPS track (back-up and verification), and the Nevada Benchmark Atlas book (overview and safety bailouts). The map set and track are inspired by the Desert Trail map books, and plotted and hand drawn maps of the DT. Since the DT is a route driven trail, I have the same aspiration for the Great Basin Trail. On the GBT Map Set, I have utilized a red dotted line to guide one through an area with plotted waypoints. Since the GBT has so much cross country meandering and weaving I refrained from a thick red line that would somewhat show or allude to what I walked. Furthermore, I refrained from not having a sole waypointed track without a dotted line to keep a corridor defined. This is a choose-your-own adventure!
I believe, especially since I do not envision a ton of hikers out there, that 'guiding' one through a corridor will help in alleviating any extra stress on the landscape. Besides, enough scattered and braided wild horse and cattle trail litter and meander the landscape. So, the red dotted line is a suggestion through from the multitude of options through an area. Plotted waypoints are a specific spot I plotted from to ground truth the route or any major intersections. On top of that, the waypoints are what one should be aware of or that a waypoint may ground truth and verify where one should be.
As with Larry Boy, I want the Great Basin Trail to be different. I am wanting this GBT to be a route-driven concept with the hopes of challenging the most ardent and experienced hiker. If you have enough experience, the plotted waypoints are surely enough and more engaging than blindly following that red-tracked-line.
All that said, since the GBT Map Set and Track is route driven, the hiker will not have extensive information on what is in front of them. So, inevitably a high skill set is required in navigating through the Great Basin. The resource will help you but not walk you through. Because of this, I feel this gives the hiker the freedom to create, to have independence, to problem solve, and to be self-sufficient. However, the caveat is that the hiker will have to count the miles to the next water source, to the next town or road crossing, find their own campsites etc. I have not created a resource for you to not be engaged. The hiker thus creates their own experience.
Mileage is not given on the map set and is only estimated in the route I have drawn on the GPS track. I do, however, feel my estimated mileage is accurate but that estimation only accounts for meandering in forward progress and not in getting turned around or misplaced. That being said I estimate a thru hike of the Great Basin Trail will be between 1050-1150 miles and will lean closer to the 1100 mile mark.
The map set is in the clockwise direction which implies a Spring time thru hike. The 7 Sections and 23 Segments are in that same clockwise direction. I do think if one chooses a Fall time hike, the GPS route is solveable enough to figure out the directional cue and information since I had already made the map set with the track fairly basic and route-driven.
Additionally, plotted waypoints, both informational and locational, are in red, while blue plotted waypoints are for water sources. I only plotted water sources that I found to be somewhat reliable. Until more hikers hike the GBT and provide additional water source information all water source information will be on the map set and track or found en route such as pools and ponds. (Water Chart now available!) Segment starts and endings are signified by a yellow flag, while towns are highlighted with a 'fork and knife.' Finally, cache point suggestions are marked by a 'red cross.'
As stated above, if you want any further information please email me at email@example.com. I believe the GBT Map Set and Track bring together my effort in sharing a route I have fallen in love with. The GBT is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. And if you are looking to further your skills, or a seeking another long distance trail, or require isolation and time spent in an incredibly scenic area, then the Great Basin Trail may suit your hankerings.
Lastly, I cannot expect a future hiker to not track something. If so, I am asking that person to not share that GPS tracked line. Really, not only is it resource poaching, but it becomes a safety issue for those not experienced highly in navigation and map reading. Please share responsibly!